WELLNESS

Kidnapping Children at the Border Vs. Foster Care

On May 7, 2018, Jeff Sessions announced a zero-tolerance policy that has taken more than 2,300 children from their parents.

Now, let’s get something straight right off the bat: This is NOT a law. This is a policy set in place by the Trump Administration. It was and continues to be a choice and they can put an end to this cruel law whenever they feel like it.

The Trump Administration are no strangers to blatantly lying or “alternative truth-telling” to get what they want so it doesn’t come as a surprise that this administration’s supporters will also say anything they can think of to support their leader.

It has been really difficult to watch this “legal” child abuse take place as images and videos of terrified children and parents ripped apart and punished for trying to save their own lives. All of this seemed too out of reach to take part in until I saw this meme:

“I’m an American citizen that broke the law. My kids were placed in a foster care facility ‘till I get out. This happens to Americans every day yet liberals don’t say a word. But If you are an illegal they find this appalling”.

I was in foster care as a teen. It’s not the same at all.

I was in foster care as a teen. This lit a fire in me because although I know how horrible it is to be property of the government and placed in a home, it’s not comparable to what these migrant families are put through. It’s not the same, at all. So, my goal, through this article, is to address the allegation that separating children from their parents at the border is anything like an American child being placed in foster care.

Every child placed in foster care ends up there for a different reason. We all have unique stories. The one thing all foster kids do have in common, though, is that they were taken from their homes not as a punishment, but for their own safety. In these unfortunate instances, the government feels that, for some reason or another, a home would not be able to support the child and that staying in their home would be more dangerous than being placed in a single family or group home. In other words, they are being removed from their home and placed in foster care for their own good.

Here’s the cold, hard difference. These migrant children, from infants to teens, are escaping lethal conditions in their home lands.

Since 2014, hundreds of thousands of children and families have fled to the United States because of rampant violence and gang activity in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. U.S. laws provide asylum or refugee status to qualified applicants, but the Trump administration says  smugglers and bad actors are exploiting these same laws to gain entry. The Central American refugee crisis developed during President Barack Obama’s administration and continues under Trump. The two administrations have taken different approaches. The Justice Department under Obama prioritized the deportation of dangerous people. Once he took office, Trump issued an executive order rolling back much of the Obama-era framework.Obama’s guidelines prioritized the deportation of gang members, those who posed a national security risk and those who had committed felonies. Trump’s January 2017 executive order does not include a priority list for deportations and refers only to “criminal offenses,” which is broad enough to encompass serious felonies as well as misdemeanors. (Rizzo, The Washington Post)

The important thing to know here is that this isn’t a partisan issue. This isn’t about Democrats vs. Republicans or even about immigration or national security. This is about basic human rights. Families are crossing our borders in attempts to (not take our jobs or benefits!) save their own lives. This is about our government kidnapping children in order to prove a point and secure our precious borders.

It could be you.

I urge you to consider that these families could be your family, they could be you. That could be your 3-month-old child who was ripped from your arms, crying and screaming in terror. It could be you who has no idea where or how your child is with no hope of reunion. It could be you. You just happened to be born here. This doesn’t make you more special than those escaping starvation and murder.

We do not get to decide whose lives are more valuable than others. We also do not get to decide that the torture inflicted on families by separating them is a suitable punishment to crossing the border illegally. Don’t you think someone’s reason for risking their own life and their families lives might be worth considering?

Wouldn’t you escape death as well? Wouldn’t you do anything to be able to feed your children? Wouldn’t you do whatever it takes to save your babies and loved ones? I would. And I’m willing to bet you would too.

What our government is doing is wrong. It is a pure disregard for human rights. It is heartless and inhumane and if we are silent, we are complacent.

You Can Help

Support advocacy organizations

RAICES: This Texas-based organization offers free and low-cost legal services to immigrant children and families. Donate here and sign up as a volunteer here.

Pueblo Sin Fronteras: This organization provides humanitarian aid and shelter to migrants on their way to the U.S. Donate here.

Together Rising: This Virginia-based organization is helping provide legal assistance for 60 migrant children who were separated from their parents and are currently detained in Arizona. Donate here.

Al Otro Lado: This bi-national organization works providing legal services to deportees and migrants in Tijuana, Mexico, including deportee parents whose children remain in the U.S. Donate here.

The Florence Project: This Arizona-based organization offers free legal services to men, women, and unaccompanied children in immigration custody. Donate here.

Texas Civil Rights Project: This organization has been using legal advocacy and litigation to help families separated at the border. Donate here.

Border Angels: This California-based organization supports San Diego County’s immigrant population and focuses on issues related to the U.S.-Mexico border. Donate here.

Neta: This Texas-based grassroots organization helps asylum seekers on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border. Donate here.

South Texas Pro Bono Asylum Representation Project (ProBAR): This project of the American Bar Association is currently supporting over 1,000 unaccom­panied children in detention centers across South Texas. Donate here.

Fronterizo Fianza Fund: This project, ran by the Detained Migrant Solidarity Committee, assists families in coming up with the bond amount needed for a detained immigrant to be released. Donate here.

National Immigrant Justice Center: This Heartland Alliance program fights for policy reform and provides legal services to immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers. Donate here.

Las Americas Immigrant Advocacy Center: This El Paso-based organization provides legal representation to migrants who otherwise can’t afford it. Volunteer here and donate here.

More ways to help: ActBlue Charities has set up a link that allows you to donate to eight different organizations, including the ACLU, United We Dream, Kids in Need of Defense(KIND), and the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project. Donate here.

Contact your elected officials

Don’t underestimate the power of pressuring your elected representatives. There are several bills and resolutions floating around Capitol Hill to prohibit family separations at the border and support migrant children, including the Senate Democrats’ Keep Families Together Act and the Fair Day in Court for Kids Act.

Read our guide to contacting Congress here.

Get out there and protest

The coalition Families Belong Together has organized rallies and vigils in dozens of cities across the country. Find one of their events near you here and check out our list of upcoming protests here.

(Thank you, Refinery 29, for all of this info on how we can help!)